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Getting Started with Cybersecurity Science

Using scientific experiments to improve, test, and evaluate secure systems

Josiah Dykstra

Join Josiah Dykstra for an introduction to the application of scientific methodology to the process of creating cybersecurity tools and systems.

Creating, using, and evaluating cybersecurity tools and systems are complex tasks. Many cybersecurity professionals are attracted to the challenges of building these tools and systems, and are motivated to use their expertise to bring sanity and solutions to real-world problems. The addition of scientific methodology aids in dealing with uncertainty, unknowns, choices, and crises. It can improve existing products and lead to groundbreaking innovation and applications.

In this course, you’ll focus on practical, real-world applications of science to the work you do. You’ll learn about scientific principles and flexible methodologies for effective security as you design, execute, and evaluate your own experiments. You’ll discover why the application of science is worth the added effort and you’ll glean insights from specific examples of experimentation in cybersecurity.

This two-hour course uses a mix of lectures, examples, exercises, and Q&A. The course is ideal for students, software developers, forensic investigators, network administrators, and any other person responsible for providing security.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, online course, you’ll understand:

  • The steps and principles of scientific method and their application to everyday, practical cybersecurity
  • The difference between metrics and science
  • How experimentation and evaluation can help ensure that software is secure

And you’ll be able to:

  • Turn your ideas into well-formulated and testable questions
  • Identify, dissect, and evaluate the methodology and claims of others
  • Ask clarifying questions about the claims of vendors, marketers, and salespeople

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re an infosec practitioner, cybersecurity specialist, or other security professional intrigued by the practical application of science to your work
  • You need to evaluate and recommend security solutions to decision-makers in your organization
  • You want to become the top vendor or create the top product in your field


There are no strict prerequisites. However, 5–10 years of experience in information security will offer the best context for learning. No prior training in scientific investigation is required.

Downloadable PDFs will be distributed during class

Students will download three PDF files (provided during class) of research papers for Exercise #1, and the worksheet for Exercise #2.

Recommended Preparation:

Getting Started with Cybersecurity Science

About your instructor

  • Josiah Dykstra is a researcher and technical lead at the U.S. Department of Defense. He received his Ph.D in computer science researching the technical and legal challenges of digital forensics for cloud computing. His research interests include cybersecurity science, human resilience, risk analysis, network security, digital forensics, and cloud computing. He’s active in the academic research community, serving on conference committees including Usenix Security and the Digital Forensics Research Workshop (DFRWS).

    Josiah is a member of ACM, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Cloud Security Alliance, NIST Cloud Forensics Working Group, IFIP Working Group 11.9 on Digital Forensics, and American Bar Association E-Discovery and Digital Evidence Committee. He’s a professional classical musician and an amateur chef.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing


  • Lecture — When, how, and why science benefits cybersecurity
  • Lecture — The steps, principles, and tools of scientific experiments
  • Exercise — Identifying the scientific process in a published paper
  • Lecture — Designing, executing, and evaluating your own experiments
  • Exercise — Formulating a testable experiment of your own